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With its inhuman expectations and unrealistic standards of beauty and physical types, the film industry seems keen on chastising its movie stars who dare to grow old. While this is often more true for women, some men—who are too pretty for their own good—are often thrown aside as the industry embraces the new young-pretty-it-person in town. When audiences worldwide first became aware of Jude Law, he was lying in an Italian beach, as the sun caressed his discretely muscular body. His Dickie Greenleaf in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, encouraged the press to label him the same way they did his character: as a golden boy.

Published in 2010, the graphic novel Quai d’Orsay became a sensation in France for its depiction of national politics. A thinly disguised account of what it was like to work under Dominique de Villepin (Foreign Minister during Jacques Chirac’s government) the novel was written by Abel Lanzac (pseudonym for the Minister’s former aid Antonin Baudry) and illustrated by Christophe Blain. At the center of the story is Minister Alexandre Taillard de Worms, an imposing, energetic man who hires the meek Arthur Vlaminck to be his personal speechwriter. Selling more than 30,000 copies during its first month, the novel was optioned by legendary filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, who saw the opportunity to turn it into his very first flat-out entry into the comedy genre.

Upon the discovery of the Jubilee oil field in the year 2007, just off the coast of Ghana, it was believed that the country would enter a period of economic rejuvenation… on the other side chances were that the country could also fall into an abyss of corruption and greed, which had happened to the neighboring Nigeria. Fascinated with the unexplored world of the oil business, filmmaker Rachel Boynton set out to make Big Men, an immersive non-fiction account that goes deep into a universe in which the actions of a few men in Texas, can alter the course of entire societies across the Atlantic.

Before Bethlehem director Yuval Adler had never made a film, yet this can’t be detected whatsoever judging from his assured command of camera movement, the great performances he gets from his actors and his effective, thrilling storytelling. The film, set in modern day, focuses on the explosive relationship between an Israeli secret agent (Tsahi Halevi) and his young Palestinian informant (played by the mesmerizing Shadi Mar’i) who is asked to betray his country. This is a film where no one seems to trust anyone else, and Adler knows exactly how to balance the right tone between spy film conventions and the larger sociopolitical themes.

Please movie gods, we have been good cinephiles this year, attended a reasonable amount of bad movies and atoned for our sins in film festivals, on Netflix and getting lost in Criterion Collection sales. We come to you with a prayer on the night before Oscar nominations are announced, so that you may grant us any of the following:

//Blogs

The Best and Worst Films of Spring 2015

// Short Ends and Leader

"January through April is a time typically made up of award season leftovers, pre-summer spectacle, and more than a few throwaways. Here are PopMatters' choices for the best and worst of the last four months.

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